Reading your comments I realise you’re way ahead of me on this one, Mari Kondo’s ‘Life Changing Magic of Tidying‘ arrived last week along with ‘Spark Joy‘ but they’re still sitting in their unopened packaging. I had intended to start reading them on the way back from London but I’m still ploughing through Gretchen Rubin’s ‘Better Than Before‘. However, even though I know spark joy is a tool to use in a decluttering sense, the words have been floating around my head all week. When I wrote my “What to do in London with teenagers” post at half term, Dee commented that I always look happiest when I’m surrounded by my family and that comment has stayed with me. So I’ve dedicated a few project happier hours this week to planning good times that will spark joy over the next few months and I’m setting this as a project for you – this is what I’ve done to give you a few ideas.

Boy joy

So far I’ve planned a quick break for half term – AirBnB works so well with teenagers as it gives us the space they need to loll when we’ve finished doing productive things. After the hilarity that the Hootenanny caused them on New Year’s Eve (irreverent hilarity as they watched the midlife guests ‘letting their hair down’) I’ve booked tickets to see Jools Holland. At the moment this is my revenge for their cheek but I’m sure we’ll have a great time. We’ve also booked our mother’s day lunch so everyone knows it’s in the diary!

Couple joy

I’ve scheduled in some fun times with Mr MC – a weekend in Paris for my birthday, a Hacienda outdoor classical event (an orchestra with Hacienda DJs not sure how it works but it sounds cool) and celebrations for our wedding anniversary next month.

Friend joy

I’ve co-opted friends for some fun too, I’m meeting up with some in London in a couple of weeks time, an old schoolfriend is coming here to stay for a weekend and a group of us are already making advance plans to celebrate our big birthdays next year with a group weekend away.

Solus joy

I’m making some time for myself. For the first time EVER since I had children (so for 19 years), I’m going away on my own. I’ve been away lots for work reasons of course but never for pleasure. When Annette from Lady of Style contacted me and invited me to join her and some other 40 plus bloggers for a blogging weekend away I jumped at the chance so that’s next month and I’m really looking forward to it.

Blog joy

And last but not least I have a little treat in store for Midlifechic. My blog is having a makeover for its second birthday at the beginning of February which I’m very excited about. It has been a labour of love by Mr MC over the Christmas holidays and it’s actually ready to go now but I wanted to have a good reason to send it live .

So, here you go, your Project Happier homework for this week is to plan some fun times between now and June. I’m amazed by how much energy it’s given me, it’s easier to lift my head up from January when I’m anticipating what’s to come.

New season buys

I’ve done really well with my mission to ‘buy less but better’ so far and I haven’t been distracted by the sales. My only purchase has been the cobalt Hush wrap top (still available) which had been on my list for a while. Instead I’ve been looking ahead. As you know trend forecasting is a big part of my day job. I’m busy developing new lines for Spring Summer 17 at the moment so I’ve been pouring over the trends for the next 18 months. The bonus is that it’s incredibly useful for Midlifechic and it makes me feel pretty confident about the recommendations I’ll be making this year.

I’m sifting out the fads and the first thing I’m focusing on is jeans. As I said last year, the skinny jean is on it’s way out of the door, it’s just one of those guests that is reluctant to leave. It’s interesting that Boden seem to be saying they are retiring the super skinny despite it’s 4.5 star reviews – that has to be a sign. (Some of you have contacted me in distress asking where to buy good skinny jeans – I think these are consistently good and half the price of the Boden ones – don’t be put off by the term jeggings). Personally I think we’ll all still be wearing skinnies for the rest of this year but that new styles will be joining them fast. So we need to think really hard about jeans because nothing dates your outfit quicker than wearing the wrong cut.

You may remember we flirted with the idea of flares last year but they didn’t really go mainstream for two reasons. Firstly they’re tricky to wear – they get soggy bottoms in the rain and you’re likely to trip over if you’re trying to go anywhere fast. Secondly it’s difficult to get the proportions of everything else right – shoes / tops / jackets – too much engagement of brain was required. Finally for women over 40 the bootcut feels like yesterday and so it was very easy to wear them and feel (and look) frumpy.

One adoptable choice is the ‘mom jean‘ which has been around for a while but is gaining traction. These have consistently good reviews

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I would say that Boden’s girlfriend jeans are part of the same family

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I must say that they take me straight back to my sixth form days but I think for women over 40 they’re more wearable than boyfriend jeans because they’re more flattering.

The second style is the cropped kickflare and I really like these. Think Alexa Chung and you’ll know what I mean instantly. They are an easy transition from a cropped skinny for summer and you can wear them now with ankle boots. The gold standard are the J Brand Selenas

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J Brand Selena mid rise cropped flare

But in my mind they’re just too expensive, even in my ‘buy less but better’ year. However I do appreciate the importance of good denim for a style like this to work well so I have ordered these because, as always, I wanted a great dark denim that I can also wear for work to justify the cost.

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Cropped kick flare jeans

Here’s a more budget version but be quick because these are already sold out in a lot of sizes

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Cropped kick flares

I’ll show you how I get on with mine in the next post. In the meantime my next (very) late to the party purchase has a sorry midlife story behind it. You’ll remember in my last post I said that I’d danced at the party till my feet were sore. Well it appears that I shouldn’t do that any more.

You see it was one of those nights when you are with the very best of your friends from your twenties and you feel as though you’ve time travelled. The music was really, really good because these friends are real music lovers and had hired a brilliant DJ. They were songs I hadn’t heard for years and every time I knew I should sit down another unmissable track came on. In the end I danced without stopping for 3 hours which is probably why we then stayed up talking until 4.30am. I was wearing my Boden pointed sequin heels and I’ve paid the price. Throughout the course of this week my big toes have swollen and swollen and turned all kinds of colours. I fear I may lose the toenails and I’ve actually found myself longing to wear my factory boots at work!

In tending closely to my poor old feet I have realised that I am really damaging them by wearing pointed shoes for long hours every day. I have lots of trade shows coming up where I will be walking for miles for days on end. The long and the short of it is that I have finally given in and bought some Stan Smiths which I have decided are the most chic of the classic trainers on the market and have enough longevity left in them to justify it. These are the ones I’ve chosen because the metallic detail elevates them from the ordinary (in my humble opinion).

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Metallic Stan Smith Originals

I’ll wear them with my Jigsaw and Whistles cropped trousers for work – at times like this I’m lucky to be working in a creative environment. So – that’s it for new purchases so far. We’re busy developing a way to show you that I’ve read my comments. Thank you so much for helping me with this it’s made a big difference – I will still answer every few posts but I’m doing extra hours at work at the moment because we have so many exhibitions coming up so life’s very full. In the meantime do keep chatting to each other – please can anyone who has read Marie Kondo give Amanda some feedback in the comments section of the last post.

As I type I’m watching the boys playing in the snow in the garden, it sounds idyllic but they’re actually scaling the 7 ft stone walls in an attempt to get Instagram pictures with the views in the background – I’m really hoping there isn’t an A&E trip in the offing! We are rapidly being surrounded by whiteness and it makes such a lovely change from rain especially as all the morning rugby matches were cancelled. Commuting through Cumbria on Monday however will be a whole new challenge. Hey ho! Here’s the snow apple I’ve just been gifted!

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Do report back on the plans you make, if we all share our ideas we can contribute to each other’s Project Happier so keep in touch.

Previous Project Happier posts

Project Happier 1 – an introduction

Project Happier 2 – creating good habits